war memorial - Borough

war memorial

The Borough

 

A memorial to honour Yeovil's war dead was first proposed at a meeting of the Borough Council in July 1917 by mayor Edmund Damon. After much debate over the style of the memorial, its location, and so forth, the final memorial was erected in the Borough.

The 29 foot high memorial was designed by Charles Wilfred Childs and sculpted in Ham stone by Messrs Appleby & Childs at a total cost of £1,250 (about £52,000 in 2017's value). The style of the memorial was based on the 'Eleanor' crosses erected by King Edward I in memory of his wife, Eleanor of Castile, to mark the nightly resting places along the route taken when her body was transported to London in 1290. The original twelve crosses were lavishly decorated stone monuments of which three survive intact at Waltham Cross, Geddington and Hardingstone. Below is a comparison photograph of Yeovil's war memorial and the Eleanor cross at Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire.

The memorial was unveiled by Col Frank Davidson Urwick DSO, president of the Yeovil branch of the British Legion, at a ceremony which took place at 6pm on Thursday, 14 July 1921 and The Western Gazette reported - "The Yeovil Territorial Company under the command of Captain J R Ware, marched in first and took up a position, and they were soon followed by a large contingent of ex-servicemen, headed by the Town Band, who marched in from Middle Street. These veterans, many of who were wearing their medals, kept the ground - a hollow square before the flag covered cross - and with the police, did much towards preserving the quietude and order before the service. Then came a pathetic little procession into the square, a large party of children, many of them tiny tots, carrying posies of flowers, which they were to place later on the base of the Monument on which was engraved the names of their fathers. Just after the town clock struck the hour the final procession moved through the crowd. Headed by the clergy and ministers of all denominations it included the Mayor, and Aldermen and Councillors of Yeovil Corporation. ‘The hymn 'Nearer My God to Thee' was sung and the Mayor, Alderman W. R. E. Mitchelmore, addressed the crowd He said that the memorial was a token of love, respect and gratitude for the sacrifice made by those whose names were inscribed upon it and would be a shrine here in Yeovil for the men whose graves were scattered far and wide. At the call of the Mayor, Lieutenant Colonel F. D. Urwick, DSO, who had seen distinguished service with the Somerset Light Infantry in the Middle East, pulled a cord and the flags fell away. The Vicar of Yeovil then dedicated the memorial, a hymn and the National Anthem concluded the ceremony."

 

For individual pages on those Yeovil men who fell in the First World War - click here.

 

gallery

 

The requirements for adding a name to Yeovil's War memorial was issued by the Town Council. Sadly nearly 80 names were, for whatever reason, not included. Each has (or will have) a page on this website in their memory.

 


From my collection

A postcard of the dedication of the War Memorial, 14 July 1921.

 


From my collection

An enlargement of the previous postcard showing at centre, from left to right, the Corporation Mace Bearer Henry Jesty, Mayor WRE Mitchelmore and Col Frank Davidson Urwick DSO.

 

A postcard of the Borough War Memorial, dating to the very early 1920s (King George Street is yet to be built).

 

 


From my collection

This postcard from the late 1920s (King George Street has been built) shows the War Memorial looking west.

 


From my collection

This postcard, again from the early 1920s, shows the War Memorial looking east.

 


From my collection

A postcard dated 1943of the Borough with the War Memorial at centre left.

 


From my collection

Almost no change in 1959 when you could still drive around both sides of the memorial.

 

This postcard dates to 1929 and shows the Borough War Memorial just a few years after it was erected.

 


From my collection  -  This photograph features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs'

A postcard of the War Memorial in the Borough, apparently guarded by a policemen. This card was sent in 1940 even though the photograph must have been taken before 1935 when the Town Hall, seen in the background, burnt down.

 


From my collection

A photograph dating to after 1935, (the town hall has disappeared, being destroyed by fire). This photograph was used on postcards from at least 1940 until the late 1950s.

 


From my collection

A postcard from the late-1950's (this one was posted in 1962) looking across the Borough towards St John's church. The white building at centre was at this time occupied by Finlay's the tobacconists and you could still drive either side of the War Memorial.

 

The Borough photographed in the mid-1960's. By this time you couldn't drive both sides of the War Memorial.

 


From my collection

A postcard of the Borough dating to the 1970s showing the War Memorial at lower right.

 


Courtesy of Jack Sweet

Remembrance wreaths placed around the base of the War Memorial, November 2008.

 

Looking across the Borough to the War Memorial. Photographed 2013. 

 

A comparison photograph of an original Eleanor cross, erected between 1291 and 1294 at Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire (just a mile from where I grew up) at left, and Yeovil's War Memorial in the Borough that owes its design to the original.